Dead man talking: The hanging of Davey Haggart

Lucie, Patricia (2005) Dead man talking: The hanging of Davey Haggart. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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David Haggart was hanged for murder in 1821. Before he died he wrote an account of his life that sold well and generated a lot of comment, mostly of outrage. His posthumously published Life was not the only medium for this 'dead man talking.' So too was his cranium, measured by leading Edinburgh phrenologist George Combe and argued over in scientific and literary journals for almost a decade after his death. This is not a biography of David Haggart but a thesis about how he and the many people who attempted to explain his delinquency interpreted what he called 'the sporting life' and others called crime. It examines six 'versions' of him; that of the court that tried him, his own Life, his readers' responses, the theories of the phrenologists, the story told on the streets, and the cinema's attempt to portray him a century and a half later. What the world made of him was of particular importance because his criminal career coincided with major changes in society. Scotland was fast becoming urbanised. The population was both rising and moving, placing strains on poor relief, policing and housing. Although the period of most intense industrialisation lay ahead, working lives were changing in both countryside and town, and economic recession in the years following the Napoleonic Wars fuelled discontents and exacerbated poverty. It will be argued that both popular and scientific literature about wrongdoers changed significantly in the 1820s. In answering the question, 'What made Davey Haggart steal and murder?', the literature opened out to address the larger question of moral agency and even the possibility that nature and the environment might have shaped him, shaped all of us.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Biographies, criminology.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Cowan, Prof. Ted
Date of Award: 2005
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2005-71100
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 10:06

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